The Names of Jesus
The significance of the name
JESUS CHRIST (̓Ιησου̂ς Χριστός). The double title occurs only five times in the gospels, whereas it is very frequent in Acts and the epistles. In the gospels the title is used twice at the beginning of Matthew, in the opening v. of Mark, in the prologue of John and in
The separate names—Jesus and Christ—warrant careful examination. “Jesus” is the Gr. form of the Heb. “Joshua” יְהוֹשׁ֣וּעַ, יְהוֹשֻׁ֨עַ, or יֵשׁוּ, Yahweh saves, a name borne by several OT characters. It was a common name among the Jews in the time of Jesus. is generally distinguished from other bearers of the same name by the addition of the description “of Nazareth,” at least when first introduced in the gospel narrative. Mark, for instance, after using the title Jesus Christ in the introductory statement, refers to Jesus as having come from Nazareth of Galilee (
The other description, that of “Christ,” is of essential importance, because it at once makes an assertion about the human Jesus that differentiates Him from all other men. There had been false Christs, but only one true Christ. The word represents the Hebrew Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ, H5431), which means “Anointed One,” but had come to be used specifically of the anointed of God, who was to come in fulfillment of ancient prophecies. At this point it is the intent of this article not to discuss the variety of concepts current among the Jews regarding this messianic hope, but rather to denote its meaning in the Christian sense. There can be no doubt that the identification of the historical Jesus with the expected Messiah was the key to the early Jewish Christian understanding of the mission of Jesus. The name Jesus Christ carries with it therefore deep theological significance. One must consider not only the bare historical facts about Jesus of Nazareth, but also the interpretation of those facts.
: The Founder of the Christian religion; the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world; the Lord and Head of the Christian church.
I. The Names.